Iowa is experiencing one of the most consistent and productive ice fishing seasons in recent memory and the good fishing has come from all across the state.
"We have had more reports about how good the fishing has been this year than in any year that I can remember," said Joe Larscheid, chief of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Bureau.
What began with late ice up will be a year remembered as well worth the wait.
"We have had great reports from around the state and it seems like the early season good fishing has continued longer this year than last," Larscheid said.
And anglers are enjoying the good fishing.
"Ice fishing is the great equalizer. Everyone has access to the entire lake and anglers are really catching a lot of fish," he said. Reports have come in about limits of crappies at Lake Macbride and Rock Creek, bluegills at Belva Deer, Lake Ahquabi, Albia reservoir, Red Haw, Beaver Lake and Anita. Anglers are catching a variety of species on the Mississippi River and in northeast Iowa's trout streams. Iowa trout streams do not freeze in the winter and the season is open all year long.
"It has been a phenomenal year for ice fishing so far, and based on our recent reports, that excellent fishing is still going on," said Larscheid. "What is great about ice fishing is that you don't need special physical skills to participate. And it is fairly inexpensive to get started."
Ice fishing is a social activity best enjoyed among family and friends and the new equipment makes fishing more comfortable and, potentially, more successful.
"You could probably borrow the equipment from a friend or neighbor to give it a try. They may even ask you to go along with them," he said.
Although fewer anglers fish during the winter, more fish are caught through the ice per angler in the short season than during the spring, summer and fall. "You can really target the fish, position yourself directly over the habitat and can catch a lot of fish per trip," Larscheid said.
"Most Iowa lakes are full of bluegills which will be the fish most caught during the winter. Lakes in the north will have yellow perch and walleye in addition to bluegills. In the south, crappies join bluegills. You catch an occasional catfish, northern pike, largemouth bass, and other species, but not as consistently," Larscheid said.
Fishing limits remain in place and licenses are required. The 2010 fishing licenses expired on Jan. 10.